SARS-like virus responsible for mysterious pneumonia outbreak in China

UNTV News   •   January 9, 2020   •   640

BEIJING, CHINA : Passengers wearing face masks as a precaution against the deadly SARS virus check in at Beijing’s Capital Airport for one of the few remaining daily Beijing to Hong Kong flights on Air China, Monday 21 April 2003. After months of denying the gravity of the problem, China’s government has suddenly made it a national priority to deal with the killer illness which originated in the Southern Chinese province of Guangdong. EPA PHOTO EPA / STR

Beijing – A new type of hitherto-unknown coronavirus has been the cause of a mysterious outbreak of viral pneumonia in central China, that has so far affected at least 59 people – with seven of them in serious condition – according to reports by the Chinese state broadcaster aired on Thursday.

The head of the group of experts tasked with detecting the cause of the disease, Xu Jianguo, explained in an interview on CCTV that the investigation of this newfound virus could take weeks, and that scientists were only able to detect it on Tuesday.

Xu said that until now only six types of coronavirus were known: four of them cause only mild respiratory conditions similar to a cold, while the other two cause two serious illnesses – severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

Alarm bells went off in China over fears of a fresh outbreak of SARS, a disease that had spread across the country in 2003 and caused hundreds of deaths, although the authorities this time ruled out that it was SARS or even MERS.

According to the World Health Organization, between 14 and 15 per cent of SARS cases result in death, while in the case of MERS, the figure is 35 percent.

According to the latest update on the outbreak by the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission outbreak, published on Sunday night, a total of 59 patients diagnosed with having been infected with viral pneumonia – of which seven were in serious condition – had been quarantined, and another 163 people who had been in contact with those affected were being monitored.

The first case was recorded on Dec. 12 and the most recent one on Dec. 29.

The commission said that they had so far found no clear evidence that the disease has been transmitted between humans.

CCTV said on Thursday that eight people who were suffering from the disease have recovered and been discharged.

There are indications that the disease could have originated from a fish and seafood market in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province and home to about 11 million people.

A woman in South Korea who had visited Wuhan in December was quarantined and receiving treatment at a hospital in Dongtan – located some 50 kilometers (31 miles) to the east of Seoul – after exhibiting some of the symptoms associated with the mysterious pneumonia.

The outbreak has caused widespread panic in China; especially in Hong Kong, where virtually all pedestrians, commuters, workers and students have been wearing surgery masks over the past few days. EFE-EPA

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China says willing to join arms treaty if U.S. reduces its nuclear arsenal

UNTV News   •   July 8, 2020

If the United States were willing to reduce its nuclear arsenal to China’s level, China would “be happy to” participate in trilateral arms control negotiation with the U.S and Russia, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Wednesday (July 8).

The U.S. has repeatedly called for China to join in trilateral negotiations to extend a flagship nuclear arms treaty between the U.S. and Russia that is due to expire in February next year.

Fu Cong, head of arms control department of Chinese foreign ministry, reiterated to reporters in Beijing on Wednesday that China has no interest in joining the trilateral negotiation. (Reuters)

(Production: Martin Pollard, Wang Shubing)

Heavy security as China opens national security office in Hong Kong

UNTV News   •   July 8, 2020

A special office to oversee national security in Hong Kong officially commenced operations on Wednesday (July 8) amidst heavy security.

The Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People’s Government, charged with overseeing implementation of the controversial new national security law for Hong Kong, held a ceremony in the early hours of the morning.

The new law punishes crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison, heralding a more authoritarian era for China’s freest city.

There was a heavy police presence outside the Metropark Hotel in Hong Kong, which will serve as the temporary headquarters of the new office. Police had erected water barriers and put in place crowd control measures overnight, restricting residents and foreign media from observing the ceremony.

Residents in the area expressed surprise about the rapid speed of opening in the new office, and the apparent lack of advance notice to the community.

“Everything that they have organized is quite secret”, said one resident, a 62-year-old interior designer giving his name as John Lee. “They have to let the citizens be informed earlier.”

The Metropark Hotel in Causeway Bay is located opposite Victoria Park, home of the annual candlelight rallies in memory of China’s bloody 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy crackdown. (Reuters)

(Production: Aleksander Solum)

China warns of consequences if UK offers residency to HK citizens

UNTV News   •   July 2, 2020

China’s foreign ministry said on Thursday (July 2) that Britain would bear all consequences for any move it took to offer Hong Kong citizens a path to settlement in the UK.

China reserved the right to act against Britain over the issue, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a daily briefing, without specifying what countermeasures Beijing might take.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday (July 1) that China’s imposition of a security law on Hong Kong was a “clear and serious” violation of the 1984 Joint Declaration and that Britain would offer around 3 million residents of the former colony a path to British citizenship. (Reuters)

(Production: Joseph Campbell, Wang Shubing)

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